Brain Bags becoming part of the culture at local hospitals

Baptist Hospital at E and Moreno streets in Pensacola. Photo credit: Phil Nickinson

We’re up to 2,600 babies and counting.

Since the SCI Brain Bags launched this spring, that’s about how many parents have received them when they leave the hospital.

Baptist, Sacred Heart and West Florida hospitals have been great partners in the project.

Every week, I touch base with the nursing staffs at those hospitals to see how things are going, answer questions and help troubleshoot where needed. I wanted to share a bit of the feedback they’ve given be over the months.

At Baptist Hospital, the staff is seeing positive feedback from the project. Baptist mothers rate the bag’s helpfulness at an 8.5. The staff estimates they are on track to deliver about 1,000 babies this year.

At Baptist, nurses on the mother-baby units are reviewing the bag and its teachings individually before moms leave the hospital. Rebeccah Vires and her staff are doing the Brain Bag teaching with moms and finding it a good time to talk about the critical importance of parent interaction with children in building a brain.

The visits take at least 20 minutes, sometimes longer, depending on the questions parents ask. Even families who already have young children under 5 appreciated the coaching on early brain development, and were eager to use the bag’s resources with all of the little ones in their family, Vires said.

The Brown family of Navarre, now has three young children in their family. During the Brain Bag sessions they talked about how they can read the book with all of their children, ages 7, 2 and their newborn.

They also talked about continuing to speak Portuguese, Mrs. Brown’s native language, at home to continue boosting the growing brains in their house.

Vires said that since the Brain Bag program began she has found herself talking about it with her family. Her daughter, who is a nanny this summer, said she has changed the way she interacts with the little boy she cares for.

Some of the nurses themselves have been using the principles in the curriculum with their own families. Vires says the nurses are using that kind of direct personal feedback with patients when they teach the bags, which reinforces the message of the teaching and makes it even more relatable.

“It’s becoming our culture now, for all of us,” Vires says.

Baptist mom Marina Cobbs Keegan wrote on her Brain Bag survey that she works in childcare and fully supports the Brain Bags’ message. Her daughter was born in August.

“I worked in a daycare and have a degree in human development and family studies. I am glad you are giving these things to mothers. Thank you for the gift — love the books!”